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When push comes to shove

Another chink has opened in the wall of everyday civility. Until recently, people with selfish tendencies hid behind the anonymity of their cars. Now, it seems, they stand behind us in grocery checkout lines.

These are the people who, according to a recent Miss Manners column, find excuses to push our groceries forward with that little separator bar.

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While no one has "accidentally" bumped into me with a cart yet, I have heard hostile muttering behind me, particularly if my order is large and the cashier new.

I have also been behind a shopper who drops her keys five times, or asks the cashier to wait while she fetches a bottle of Mazola from Aisle 15. Or doesn't start filling out a check until the order has been totaled.

Perhaps the reason I'm so irritated with slowpokes is that I try to squeeze grocery shopping into a weekday lunch hour. I've given up shopping on weekends because the lines are too long. If everybody's like I am, it's no wonder incivility rules the aisles.

To put a stop to rude behavior, I propose taking a cue from Louisa May Alcott, who was known for a mercurial temper. To let her family know how she was feeling, she kept a "mood pillow" on the sofa. If the pillow was upright, they could call her for dinner. But if the pillow was on its side, her family let her be.

Perhaps supermarkets could have signs to post on your cart: "HAVING A BAD DAY," or "COUPON COUNTER" that would help other shoppers steer clear. It might just bring about a smoother shopping experience.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at home@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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